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Blog

Welcome to my blog, where you'll find substantive, well-researched articles that blend neuroscience, philosophy, poetry, personal reflection, and the latest life coaching tools in service of helping people engage their full potential. 

 

Filtering by Tag: Joy

On Joy, Healing, and Sex

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

Joy—not glimpsed or tasted, but worn like a silky skin and savored—feels, to me, naked, exposed. Feels trembly. Feels unhidden. Feels all-in. Feels deeply vulnerable. When I anticipate and imagine cultivating and claiming fully my joy, as a spiritual posture, my heartbeat quickens and my chest heaves up then down, as it sometimes does when in an elevator and the body is still traveling between floors, suspended, despite the gentle thud of arrival.

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Surviving vs. Thriving Through the Holidays (and Beyond)

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

Am I (with the best of intentions!) gearing up to survive this season? Or am I setting myself up to thrive

Maybe the answer to this question is obvious to you, but if you're like me, you're not always sure; survival-mind is so deeply normalized by our culture today that we often don't realize when we're caught in its grip. Hyper-consumption (the f.o.m.o. fomented by Black Friday, Cyber Monday... the belief that eating and drinking well past the point of our body's comfort or health means we're in sync with the "holiday spirit"...), overspending and over-commitment, and habitual people-pleasing are just a few ways in which we perpetuate and naturalize survival-mindset, that deep-grooved network of beliefs that whispers there's not enoughmore is better, and that's just the way it is

You know you're in survival mindset if you're bracing for the days ahead. You know you're in survival mindset if you're letting yourself off the hook with regard to self-care (eating well, sleeping enough, honoring your boundaries and priorities) in the name of being festive, fun, a "good friend" or a "good host." You know you're in survival mindset if you're striving for perfection, if you're spending more time thinking about what others will think of your efforts than you spend enjoying those efforts along the way, and if you're responding to feelings of overwhelm by shifting into auto-pilot, that slightly numb state of being in which we tell ourselves that the delayed reward of "getting it all done" justifies the edgy cortisol high we're riding through a sea of seemingly endless tasks. 

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Finding the Joy in "Wakeful Anguish"

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

As the Romantic poet John Keats so beautifully reminds us, melancholy is native to joy (“Ay, in the very temple of Delight/Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine”), but not because there’s some universal law that taxes us with a measure of pain for every dollar of pleasure we spend: as Keats suggests, the mournful emotions are inherent in, not a complement to, the emotions of ecstasy and delight. This distinction—between “inherent in” and “complement to”—is key to cultivating a life of full potential, a deliberate way of thinking and being that fosters active engagement, expansive happiness, and genuine purpose. If we can understand the mournful emotions, in all their aching and sometimes baffling intensity, as inherent in, not anathema to happiness and pleasure, we will go a long way towards short-circuiting the symptoms of self-doubt and second-guessing that tip us from embracing our “wakeful anguish” into indulging our fearful wish to stay small and safe.

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